What I thought of Hook Jaw #5

After the penultimate issue we arrive at the climax of this revived series of Hook Jaw as it draws to a close and finally delivers the blood and gore it’s teased throughout its short run. To recap; the baddie Somalian pirates and the baddie Americans have all kidnapped, threatened and tortured each other and the rapidly depleting band of environmentalists are stuck in the middle of a power-play that threatens the world.

Writer Si Spurrier manages to tie things up in a nice little bow and in the grand Hook Jaw tradition there’s only one character out of the main cast who survives to presumably tell the tale of Hook Jaw and what it is. Hook Jaw now isn’t just a slavering eating machine but a figure of folk mythology bordering on the supernatural as well as being an eating machine. As a series it lacked a certain bite for gorehounds, but managed to beef up the actual character of Hook Jaw which is something of an achievement.

So overall a good solid mini-series that now its introduced the concept to a new generation of readers moves onto greater things, assuming of course that Titan continues to publish stories.

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What I thought of Hook Jaw #4

As of last issue the body count for this series has been not just low, but relatively bloodless. Not so here as Hook Jaw is turning into a very different sort of comic. It could have taken the blood and guts approach (and when there is gore and violence it is pretty extreme) but choose instead to take a more political, even measured (as much as is possible in a comic mainly about a giant man-eating Great White shark) approach. This issue sees the focus switch to the Somali pirates who have captured our group of protagonists which for at least one of them means a very messy end at the teeth of Hook Jaw herself.

There’s also a clunking great MacGuffin that everyone is looking for which if found can either save the world or destroy it, in the wrong hands of course. It is a tad clunky but it is purely there to drive the plot ahead. The real meat here is in the twisting turns of a plot that’s ramping up the stakes so that the world itself is at risk. Not bad for a series about a shark.

As always Si Spurrier turns in a good script that’s smarter on a second read, and Connor Boyle’s restrained style means it isn’t just a gorefest or tedious talking heads. As a series this is one of the best things Titan have published though the cruel amongst us say that isn’t a high benchmark which would be unfair as Hook Jaw is a fine comic.

What I thought of Hook Jaw #3

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Last issue saw the plot thicken, and this one sees it becoming a gloopy soup as those familiar with Si Spurrier’s Crossed +100 run will spot the similarities. Both are weaving massive mysteries. Both have a quirky, satirical edge and both built up to short, sharp incidents of horror which is where we are in Hook Jaw #3 from Titan Comics as Spurrier racks up the tension, as well as the scale of the story, towards something far bigger than what one would have expected from the first issue, or indeed, the history of the character who up til now has been mainly to eat people in as many bloody ways a psychotic Great White shark can.

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This issue sees our core cast of environmentalist scientists, Somali pirates and CIA operatives joined by Greenpeace (not actually called Greenpeace here) activists and the media and more and more bodies keep getting lined up for a potential bloodbath. In this issue though there’s only one big death at the teeth of Hook Jaw, and it’s a pretty chilling one too, but we’ve been spared the gorefests of the Action strips so far as Spurrier slowly builds up his cast as well as why are there strange bones on an island off the coast of Somalia and who exactly has been feeding Hook Jaw with animals?

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This isn’t as fast paced as the original Action strips. After all they had to cram as much as possible into four or five pages to keep plucky British kids coming back next week for their diet of severed heads and mutilation. The monthly format is a slower burn, but this is still a surprisingly good, somewhat political, book about a pissed off giant shark.

What I thought of Hook Jaw #2

hookjaw-2Turning a comic about a killer Great White Shark into something more than just a gloriously gory cavalcade of body parts and spurting red ocean spray is a massive task, but in issue 2 of Titan Comics Hook Jaw, Si Spurrier has pulled off a rather astonishing trick in making a comic ostensibly about people being eaten in interesting ways into one about folk myth and of course people being eaten in interesting ways.

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We pick this issue up after the first issue with the environmentalist crew and CIA operatives off the coast of Somalia trying to rescue a MacGuffin from the sea while an Amanda Waller secret service operative type barks orders to 2D military machismo stereotypes that are dropped in to provide a contrast to the lead character, Maggie, who in a throwback to the classic 1970’s Action strips, is a reluctant protagonist in a story where things are being set up to end very, very badly for all concerned.In some cases characters are there so we cheer for when Hook Jaw gets to do their worst to them and I love that.

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The other thing that’s a hard task is giving Hook Jaw a personality of her own, and that’s something Spurrier does menacingly well as we see how her appetite for flesh and blood is not just insatiable, but is all that drives her on to be the wild card in this stand-off between environmentalist hippies, the CIA and Somalian pirates.

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Spurrier’s script is splendid, but it is the meta aspect of the tale that raises this series beyond the predictable fun from the horror and gore we expect, and Connor Boyle’s art is excellent as he has to struggle with not just making people talking on boats seem interesting, but drawing lots of sharks in a way that gives them an individuality is an achievement. Overall this is building up to be a surprisingly fun, and even more intellectually challenging work than just watching people being eaten, though that too is something to look forward to for gore fans.

What I thought of Hook Jaw #1

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I loved Action when I was a kid.and like any sensible child I lapped up the gory thrills of Hook Jaw, the star of the comic which happened to be a vicious man-eating shark. Writer Pat Mills managed to capture young minds easily and now in the last days of 2016 comes Si Spurrier and Conor Boyle’s revamp courtesy of Titan Comics and their tale of a group of scientists held hostage by some pretty crap Somalian pirates.

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These pirates are essentially just fodder for a rescuing group of American navy SEALS and of course, Hook Jaw, whose presence is teased for much of this first issue.

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And all this first issue is really is about Spurrier setting up a cast of mainly disposable characters who’ll be eaten, or horribly killed by the gang of sharks who by the end of the first issue have already started chomping through a disposable cast of Navy SEALS.

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Hook Jaw is a gloriously fun revamp of a character mainly middle aged men look back at fondly. It isn’t too complex, but this doesn’t matter as its all about the creeping menace and of course, a giant man-eating shark that doesn’t give a fuck about who it eats. Welcome back Hook Jaw!

What I thought of Crossed +100 #18

Thoughts about #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9,#10#11#12#13#14#15, #16 and #17.

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Here it is, the final issue of Crossed +100. That confrontation between Robbie, the Crossed who passed as human and Future Taylor, the person who Robbie betrayed as well as her town who were massacred by the Crossed. In the middle is the Crossed child Future was bringing up as her own.

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Spurrier has a lot of plotlines to wrap up in this issue, which he does while letting the narrative flow but there’s still a feeling while reading this issue that things are a bit cramped, that in fact he’d planned a few more issues and this is cramming everything in. It doesn’t matter though as it works as we get Robbie’s history, as well as the raid on the Crossed stronghold playing out next to each other.

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We find out what Salt was planning for; a hybrid human/Crossed who just happens to be the child Future has been protecting. As all this plays out, Future’s lover, Mustaqba is sitting there with a knife in his guts slowly dying.

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As for the end, there is an ending, there’s also an opening for Future’s story to continue, should of course Avatar want that to happen but right now they’ve not revealed their plans for the Crossed AFAWK.

Crossed +100 has shown that these stories don’t have to be just tedious exercises in gore. rape and violence. That with a skilled writer at the helm a dark science fiction story can emerge with those elements there but they’re not what the story is actually about so there’s not a case where the story beats are just there to take us to the next grotesque moment. They’re there to help drive the story which in this case for now at least, is over.

What I thought of Crossed +100 #17

Thoughts about #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9,#10#11#12#13#14#15 and #16.

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Here we all are at the penultimate issue of Crossed +100. Things moved quickly last issue as it felt like Si Spurrier had to compact some storylines up so #16 felt amazingly fast paced and #17 starts with Future leaving her friends and having a daydream..

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Future has some guilt issues to work out.

So, while on her way home she’s intercepted by Bailey, who knows that Future knows the location of Salt’s followers and would quite like it so he and his men can raise it to the ground.

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Future reluctantly gives Bailey the information he needs, but in telling him the details she reveals her own talent for war and that scares her.

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Future spends her remaining time returning home trying to work out exactly what it is that she’s missed, which seeing as we’re coming up the final issue will be something enormous and terrible.

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War is coming but Future has her own drama to live out as the uninfected take on the Crossed for what may be the final battle one way or another. Next issue is the final issue then Avatar are being coy about what’s due next from them in regards Crossed. There’s still a Garth Ennis story due (which I’d presumed would be in Crossed:Badlands #100 but it isn’t) so the idea isn’t going away but it does need some quite serious quality control, Crossed +100 excepted.

Next issue is the final issue. By then we may have a better idea.